November 18, 2013 – Paraguay
How many weeks have I been out already? It´s super crazy!
I just finished my training and I´m a real missionary now!! My comp and I watched the District to finish my training and at the end we were both crying. 1. because we´re both babies and I am so much like my mom 2. because this is probably our last day together. My number is up to train. I´m fluent and we´re getting 15 new American sisters. I´m super psyched for sure!! But Hna. Chavez is awesome and I don´t want to leave her! We are so unified. 12 weeks ago I would have never thought it was possible, but we are seriously like one person. We have the same thoughts, the same words. About 20 times a day she says something I was about to say, where we should go, what we should do, what we should teach, and vice versa. I think I could finish her sentences if I wanted. And it´s not like we are robots either. Every lesson is unique and we never teach the same thing. We are learning lots of new ways to teach though. We´ll finish a lesson and be like, wow! That was so cool! Let´s explain it that way next time! You have to teach everything so clearly. You think it would be easier to teach so simply, but you have to understand everything so well so you can teach so simply. It´s challenging to help them understand, but so rewarding and with the Spirit, the people here are developing their own testimonies.
Things you didn’t know you could eat – crocodile and armadillo. No, I didn’t eat them, but one of the member families was bragging about how they’re going to a party with really good food. “Rico es, “ they say (it’s delicious).
Also, you know what’s great about living in S? Natural skin exfoliation. It’s like a nice little sand blaster on your skin all day and then when you wash off your face (and any exposed skin) there’s this nice layer of dirt that’s all rubbed in – and that’s what I call natural exfoliation!
One thing I’ve noticed that is super interesting is that Latinos are really superstitious. That being said, I also believe they are more receptive to the communication of the Spirit in dreams and signs and things like that because they are more believing. The conversion story of my companion is like that. For her it was a sign she received. Lots of people really pay attention to their dreams and the things they see. Hna Chavez notices a lot of “tender mercies” that I never noticed in my life. Cultures are so different. I never imagined and it’s such a large part of who you are, how you act and why.
Lots of people are at risk of losing their homes here. One of the less active families we teach, the Mom is the president of her neighborhood. Do you all remember when Arizona was in a really bad drought and everyone fasted in all the religions? That impressed me a lot when I was younger and taught me the power of fasting. We taught her a lesson about fasting and I told that story. She said she was going to announce a neighborhood-wide fast. How cool is that?
Also, we have a Muslim investigator. Crazy, right? He popped in on a lesson one day (people do that all the time, that’s how we get lots of new investigators. It’s really nice.). Everyone is neighbors and friends and religion is really open. People don’t mind listening. He’s from India and I was like, “Why the heck are you in Paraguay?” And he was like, “Why the heck are you in Paraguay?” Touché. It’s so hard for me to imagine faith without Christ. Without Christ, God’s plan doesn’t work. All of it hangs on His atonement. He said something really interesting though the first time we met him. He said, “If I’m going to change my religion, it’s because I felt something in my heart, not because I was convinced in my mind.” And we were thinking, great! We sure don’t know how to Bible bash and he knows the pentateuco [Torah] way better than we do, but as representatives of Jesus Christ, we know how to bring the Spirit and testify of Christ.
Also, I´m pretty sure the Book of Mormon was written for the Posadas, Argentina mission. Everything that happens in the Book of Mormon, every doctrine, every story, is 100 percent applicable to the things we are doing here every day. I love the Book of Mormon so much!
Now that you’re a seasoned veteran (haha), what do you suggest for missionary preparation?
Being able to be an independent person helps a lot. I was grateful for the year I had away from home. It´s a lot harder for mamas boys who have never really had to do anything for themselves. I know I was prepared for my mission. Doesn´t mean it was any easier. But what really helps is when you know how to turn to the Lord in everything. He can help you. If you don´t know how to do that, life is going to be tough. It´s also tougher for stubborn people, people who find fault in everything, people who like to be negative. If you can kick those bad habits earlier, it will help a lot. Especially going foreign to a new culture and language, you need to be open to change and to doing things differently. Strengthen strict obedience, strengthen turning to the Lord, for help, in gratitude, or just to get to know Him. Strengthen your love and desire to study the scriptures. Strengthen your desire to serve others and to serve God. I´ll keep thinking on that one.
What do children do for fun?
There´s TV. Some people have internet. Jump around in the mud. They like to watch the construction. Marbles. Hanging out and drinking terere. About 12 and up that´s all you do. Drink terere.
What about youth?
Terere. Futbol. Work.
Do most families stay close geographically?
Kind of depends. We will find like 6 generations on one plot of land, and others are completely alone from family. There´s a lot of young people here because S is a booming job town with all the shopping. Lots of people come here to better their lives. Everyone and their dog is catholic and it´s really common for only individuals or part of a family to join. Almost never it´s a whole family, uncles, grandmas, like that. Especially if they´re all living together.
We had a special fast this week for our branch. We´ve been working soooo sooooo hard here, but we both feel like it´s not come to anything. We´ve had almost 3 months here and we feel like we haven´t made any real difference. So missionaries come and baptize, but nothing changes. Church attendance doesn´t change. The members aren´t necessarily strengthened. We fasted for this branch, that the members could be strengthened.
That day was the interviews for the temple trip this month and no one showed, like the other 3 temple meetings. We met with members that day and they were all frustrated with the other members and how none of them will help out.
Then we had a little miracle for us that day. We taught a lesson and had some random neighbor pop in and therefore become a new investigator. Which is awesome and a great way to get investigators. A lot of times the original investigator stops progressing, but the neighbor does. This neighbor is friends with a member, and investigated the church before and likes it, but things just didn´t work out. They asked a question and I ended up answering it with the beatitudes. And as I read them, this woman just started weeping. And we were both like, YES! I love it when the Spirit speaks to their hearts. It´s so beautiful. Maybe we didn´t make any huge changes here in S. Maybe we only reactivated two maybe three members. And maybe our convert C is moving away. But we worked our very hardest here in S. The Spirit touched hearts here and changed lives. I hope our testimonies strengthened the testimonies of the members. I hope the seeds we planted will one day blossom. Maybe it´s not something I will ever see, but I feel really happy with the work we did here, by the Spirit. I know that the Lord is pleased because we tried our best. We´re imperfect servants, but we have a perfect Master who is willing to teach us and mold us and shape us after His image.
I love my mission.
Hna. Cami Anderson
That´s right. A HARP!!!!!!! Except if you notice it´s completely opposite. That totally made my day when we found a harp for me to play. I didn´t really play it. But I got to pose with it! Of course, I just realized there’s a sketch creepy man in the background. Sorry. Hahaha It was his store.